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Umong Homestay in Lamphun is all about enjoying the slow pace of life

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Located in Lamphun’s Muang District, Umong Homestay in Tambon Umong is a laid-back community where you can enjoy a slow lifestyle.   “Our village is very peaceful. It is green and you can get a breath of fresh air,” said Sirikorn Chaimanee, the president of Umong Homestay.

The homestay service was initiated in 1999 by a group of locals who wanted to promote their village as a tourist destination. After years of trial and error, it has reduced from 24 members to 10 to make sure every house passes a homestay standard.

“The standard includes the hygiene of the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. We also insure that every house must offer a unique activity in addition to the basic need of providing a place to stay,” she said.

For example, Sirikorn’s homestay, Ban Siri, offers flower-making courses using pandanus leaf and holds a class for basic ballroom dancing, while another homestay, Ban Suan Jinda, holds a cooking class using local herbs planted around the house. One of the recommended local dishes is made of phak chiang da (perrpioca of the woods or Gumnema inodorum).

“The vegetable has a slight bitter taste, but is delicious when stir fried with egg or added to a fish curry,” she said. The herb can also be used as an alternative medicine to reduce sugar levels for those who have diabetes.

Tourists can also learn how to create tung flags, which are normally used for ceremonies at temples, especially during Songkran. Other activities are making bamboo handicrafts, learning traditional Thai massage and making sat yaeng, or a mattress made of dried leaves of khla (calathea).

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“Our mattress might look as if it was made of kok [sedge], but the leaves are khla or yaeng that are more durable and can last up to 10 years,” Sirikorn said. Apart from the activities, the village also has a learning centre, which educates the community on global warming. The wooden building was built in 1999 and is octagonal in shape. The ground floor has an open-air exhibition displaying tools used in rice fields because most of the villagers are farmers. There are also fish catching tools such as bamboo traps, as well as wooden boats.

The second floor is segmented into various rooms, including a global warming educational zone displaying environmental issues and how people can be part of the solution by learning how to reuse, recycle and reduce.

Another area has replicas of rooms in a traditional rural house such as a kitchen room with charcoal stoves, clay pots and a traditional northern-style meal served in khan tok. The meal is a combination of small dishes including sai ua (the northern-style spicy sausage), sticky rice in a bamboo container, nam phrik ong (tomato and pork chilli dip) and fresh vegetables.

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The museum also displays a number of large bamboo baskets, each of which is as tall as an adult. A museum officer said that the basket is called boog jag, and was used by hilltribes to keep their clothes and other belongings while travelling. Each basket has a cover and a strap. Another room displays hand-made toys made of coconut shells and a sample room of the homestay service. Visitors will also be encouraged to visit a centre for making wine.

“Our village is famous for longan so the sweet fruit is used to produce wine,” Sirikorn said, adding that longan wine is also certified as a One Tambon One Product. In addition, the centre also produces wine from other local ingredients such as roselle, lychee, jambolan and galingale. Visitors will have a chance to try the local wine at the centre.

Lastly, the village also has old temples such as Wat Umong and Wat Chetawan Nongmu and a 45-rai learning centre for sufficiency economy, which teaches organic plantation and how to make the most use of land to grow rice, herbs, vegetables and feed oxen, pigs and chickens.

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In june, the Umong Homestay received a certification of Homestay Standard for 2013-2016 from the Tourism and Sports Ministry.


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